In attendance representing the Logan County Board were Kevin
Bateman, David Blankenship, Janet Dahmm, Robert Farmer, David Hepler,
Gene Rohlfs, Bob Sanders, Steve Schaffenacker, Adam Schmidt and
Annette Welch. Representing the city of Lincoln were Aldermen
Michelle Bauer, Rick Hoefle, Jeff Hoinacki, Kathy Horn, Todd
Mourning, Steve Parrott, Jonie Tibbs and Tracy Welch.
The only item on the agenda was a report from Jennifer Daly and her
staff from the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. Daly
opened with an introduction of the GPEDC to the group. She spoke
about the members of the EDC Board of Directors as well as investors
who lend financial support to the agency. She noted that 60-percent
of the funding for the organization comes from the private sector
and that the organization utilizes more than 300 volunteers to
implement its various programs and projects.
Sally Hanley of the GPEDC spoke about the business visits that had
been conducted in Logan County in 2016. She reported that she,
accompanied by Bill Thomas of the Logan County Economic Development
Partnership and also Cathy Wilhite of the Lincoln/Logan County
Chamber of Commerce, had visited six local manufacturers in 2016.
Hanley said the goal of the visits was to speak with the business’
managers or owners about their needs and to offer an assessment of
business to identify if the businesses were at risk of failure.
Hanley said she was happy to report that all six of the businesses
visited in 2016 were strong and not at risk of closing or leaving
the area. She noted that some of the businesses were planning or had
completed expansion projects. Hanley said of the wide area the GPEDC
covers, Logan County was the only county that had zero at risk
Hanley noted that for each of the companies visited their strength
and weakness had been the workforce. The employees the companies
have are an asset to the companies, but finding those reliable,
productive employees in this area is a struggle.
Steve Parrott asked what formula was used to determine whether or
not a company is at risk. Hanley said the GPEDC uses a nationally
recognized scoring process, so each company is evaluated based on
the same information. She said the survey used assists in
identifying issues such as decreased sales, or a decreasing market.
Hanley and Daly went on to talk about diversifying “maturing market”
businesses. An example of a maturing market was printers. It was
noted that in the electronic age we are in, printed materials are
giving way to electronically transmitted information, so that is a
business area where diversification is going to be needed.
Another example given was the earthmoving industry, which is
prevalent in Peoria County. In that area, the GPEDC is helping large
equipment, and large equipment accessory and supply companies, to
find other markets.
Nathan Davis of the GPEDC team spoke about his work in Rural
Development. He noted that he had visited the areas around Lincoln
and Mount Pulaski, talking with community leaders about the business
and development issues they face.
Davis noted that currently, he is working on grants for broadband
internet. He said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has grant
funding available for rural internet development.
Green areas on map
indicate where internet service is readily available, but does not
include wireless internet services.
Davis showed a map of Logan County that identified the concentration
of internet in the area. The map he said didn’t fully represent the
internet service in Logan County because it does not include
wireless services. He said for the work being done, the only
existing service included on the map was hard-wired Internet with
download speeds of 4 GB or greater.
David Hepler asked if Davis had gotten any feedback from the Mount
Pulaski area concerning the windfarm. Davis said he had spoken with
the Mount Pulaski Mayor Jim Fuhrer and the city council, and there
were mixed opinions about the windfarm. Helper asked if the city
leaders felt the windfarm had impacted the closing of the town’s
grocery store. Davis said he noted no connection between the two
[to top of second column]
Other information shared included that the GPEDC is working on
start-up travel grants. It was explained that as people start new
businesses, there are times when they need to travel to market their
products. The grant the GPEDC is working on will offer financial
assistance to those businesses for travel expenses.
Daly also reported that the GPEDC had held workforce expos for fifth grade
students, as well as high school students. In the Fifth Grade Expo, 55 students
from Logan County had attended. On the high school level, 12 Logan County
Daly shared information about the “Live GP” feature on the GPEDC website and
showed that Lincoln and Logan County have a page on the site.
She said that the Fifth Street Road project was still in the foreground. New
grant applications are to be submitted by April 7, 2017. She noted that the
project is now listed as a Top Ten project with the GPEDC and with CEDS, which
will improve the chances of winning grant awards in the future.
Daly showed a list of all the grants that had been awarded to the GPEDC recently
and said that the GPEDC is doing a better job and submitting and winning grants.
Rick Hoefle, looking at the list presented in the slideshow from the GPEDC,
asked if any of the grants awarded were specifically for Logan County. Daly said
that several of the grants were considered “regional” which meant that Logan
County had the potential to benefit from the grant award. However, no grants had
been awarded specifically or exclusively for the county.
At the end of the presentation, Neitzel asked if there were any other topics to
come before the joint meeting. Bill Thomas of the LCEDP spoke briefly about of
the new Enterprise Zone for Lincoln and Logan County.
At that time the official announcement from the state of Illinois on enterprise
zone designation had not been made. The official news of the Enterprise Zone
came last week during a meeting of the Logan County Regional Planning
Commission. At the Monday meeting, Thomas said that the award had been given and
that one local business was preparing to benefit from the new designation,
utilizing the tax credits to afford some much-needed repairs and upgrades to its
Hepler commented briefly on the Community Action Partnership of Central
Illinois’ Jobs for Life project. He noted that the county had agreed to support
the project financially. He said the city had also been asked for financial
assistance. He wondered if the city planned to give money to the project.
Michelle Bauer said that the city is preparing to go into budget talks within
the next few weeks. The matter is expected to come up then.
With no other discussion, the meeting adjourned.
In addition to the planned discussions, the group also heard briefly from Clint
Pollock of Lincoln, who is starting up the ‘Lincubator’ project. The goal of the
project is to gather talent and implement training in the field of technology.
Pollock introduced the project and noted that he had met with Bill Thomas on
several occasions to discuss the new project. Daly said that the GPEDC would
also be interested in learning more about the project and perhaps working with
Pollock in the future.
Past related articles